National Park: Isle Royale, Michigan

by Cie McCullough Buschle on April 18, 2012

in Outdoors with Kids, Travel Ideas

Why go to a park that’s overcrowded when you can go to one that claims only 14,000 visitors yearly? That’s half as many people as visit Yellowstone in a single day. Isle Royale, in Lake Superior, is rugged, isolated, and also boasts the largest return visitor percentage of any other National Park.

Isle Royale is another park that’s only accessible by boat or seaplane. It also closes in winter, one of the very few National Parks that do, shut down from November to mid-April. First and foremost, the Isle is a wilderness preserve. Humans are can only go on established trails and accessible lakes, while wildlife are not restricted in any way. Camping is allowed, and provisions are limited, but the fee is only $4 per day for each person over 12.

If you go make sure to bring plenty of bug spray. Try taking a boat tour around the park’s 400 satellite islands, or do it yourself with a canoe, kayak or sailboat. Isle Royale has been carefully managed for decades to protect the natural wilderness of the island, so be prepared for some truly amazing encounters with fox, loon, moose, and even wolves.

Isle Royale - Beach Near Mouth of Washington Creek

Isle Royale - Beach Near Mouth of Washington Creek

| Cie McCullough Buschle lives with her dog Einstein and a cat named Burton Guster. She is a lifelong traveler and enjoys researching history through holidays, toys, and everyday objects. Cie is a sculptor and co-owns The Creative Chameleon, a place where kids and adults can create, paint, celebrate, and just have a lot of fun. Sometimes you can find her time traveling back to the Middle Ages as part of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Katie Martin April 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Isle Royal looks beautiful and very interesting. I’ve never kayaked before, but it seems like kayaking around all the satellite islands would be really fun and awesome to see. I wonder why Isle Royal is so much less known than other National Parks in the US, although it is probably easier to keep it as nice as it is because of less traffic. Are any special permits besides the $4 per person camp fee needed to stay there? Are boats or seaplanes over there very hard or expensive to arrange?

Cie McCullough Buschle April 24, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Thanks for your comment, Katie!
There are no other fees listed on the Park’s official site, but you can get an Individual Season Pass, $50 or a Season Boat Rider Pass, $150. The entirety of any of these fees stays in Isle Royale to pay for back-logged projects.
There are four ferries and one seaplane that provide service to and from Isle Royale National Park. All have different fares and schedules and reservations are strongly recommended.
There is also Rock Harbor Lodge, which has sixty rooms and twenty housekeeping duplex cottages. The Lodge also has a dining room and grill.
For information on the ferries, go to and for Rock Harbor Lodge,

Enjoy! And make sure to check out all our video posts of National Parks!

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